David Schindler

How Now, Nature?

Courtesy of Wikipedia user: Bogdan

Courtesy of Wikipedia user: Bogdan

This week seems to be a lot about how we interact with, and understand nature. From the tenuous future of the Experimental Lakes Area, to a Stand Up For Science Rally, to learning how to make your dinner from an unlikely source…your local pond, Terra Informa is ready to get elbow deep and explore.

Download this week’s episode

Experimental Lakes Area Finds a New Owner

1968 was a watershed year for the study of  water management in Canada. It was in the spring of that year that the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada set aside a sparsely inhabited region of Central Canada, containing 46 small, deep and pristine lakes for the scientific study of the causes, effects, and control of water eutrophication.

The area was given a mysterious, slightly disturbing name: The Experimental Lakes Area. But in the 46 years that the ELA has been in operation, the scientific community has insisted that the area is integral to our understanding of how to effectively protect our water ecosystems.

It makes sense then,  when a decision was made by the federal government to defund the project, that scientists from around the world condemned the decision.

Matt Hirji talked with David Schindler — the founding director of the ELA — and Maggie Xenopoulos a professor at Trent University on what’s at stake.

Stand Up for Science

On September 16th, thousands of scientists and supporters around Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax, took to the streets to defend public funding of basic research.

Their banner: Stand up for Science.

And they have a message for Canadians:  investing in good science and sharing the results makes good policy.

Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke to Dr. Katie Gibbs on the day of the protests. She’s one of the directors of Evidence for Democracy, a group of science experts, science communicators and citizens around the country behind the demonstrations.

Links: Evidence for Democracy , David Suzuki speaks out at Vancouver Rally (Georgia Straight)

Girl Gone Wild: Cooking Cattails

On this week’s edition of Girl Gone Wild, wildlife documentarian Jamie Pratt took Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips out to cook up some cattails from her family’s backyard pond.

Links: Girl Gone Wild Documentaries, Cattails: A Survival Dinner (Eat the Weeds)

What’s Happening

The City of Edmonton’s Speaker Series presents a talk on solar energy. Learn about the present state and future development of solar energy in Canada. Get details on solar initiatives, rebates, training and certification programs. Happening Thursday, September 26th, 7 pm at MacEwan University.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is headed up to Whitehorse on Friday. The film screening will feature wild, high adrenaline mountain sports films from skiing and snowboarding to kayaking and climbing. That goes down at the Yukon Arts Centre, 7:30 pm on Friday, Setember 27th.

Share the Road is hosting Ontario’s first Youth Bike Summit. 120 high school students and 80 adults will meet up in Toronto on October 6th & 7th to make Ontario a more bike-friendly place for young people. Following the summit, participants will receive ongoing mentoring and support from Share the Road as they engage in cycling advocacy in their communities. Overnight accommodations are available, as well as limited travel subsidies.

Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre is hosting a bikeway planning and development workshop. Velo Quebec will help provide participants with an understanding of the key steps involved in bikeway development. Learn the basics of planning strategies, design, analysis, and safety. There will be two workshops, one for Sydney and one for Halifax, on October 7th and 10th respectively.

Sea Shepherd & Tar Sands Pollution

A new documentary chronicling the life of Sea Shepherd’s founder has just been released, titled Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson. So for anyone who’s thinking about seeing the film, we thought we’d give you a little background.

The federal government has just released its proposed environmental monitoring plan for the tar sands. The plan may have been developed in less than a year, but for critics of the industry it has been a long time coming. For years, scientists and environmental groups had heaped criticism on the monitoring systems tasked with overseeing the tar sands industry. Last fall the release of two reports by renowned ecologist Dr. David Schindler marked a tipping point. They clearly linked pollution of the Athabasca watershed to tar sands extraction — a claim both industry and the Alberta government had long denied.

Download this week’s show.

Image from the film Eco Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson

Linda Duncan on the Cancun Climate Conference and Dr. David Schindler on Effects of Oil Sands Development

This week, Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry talked with the NDP Environment Critic and member of parliament for the Edmontn-Strathcona riding,  Linda Duncan on her experiences at the Cancun Climate Conference. Then we bring you the second part of Dr. David Schindler’s talk titled ‘Measuring the Effects of Oil Sands Development on the Athabasca River Ecosystem’

Download This Weeks Episode

Image courtesy of CBC News

News Headlines

Climate change, wildfires in vicious cycle

(CBC News)

Biologist warns of toxic metal in B.C. seafood

(CTV News)

Delay in Clean Coal Power Project

(CBC News)

Linda Duncan on the Cancun Climate Conference

The Cancun climate talks wrapped up with a late night agreement after a week which left most skeptical about the possibilities for international cooperation at the UN level. In an effort to gain a deeper insight into the process and outcome of the Cancun negotiations Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry interviewed environmental activist Russel Charlton & NDP MP Linda Duncan as they left Cancun from two different international conferences on climate change. This week Myles spoke with New Democrat Environment Critic and Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona Linda Duncan from the morning after the conclusion of the Cancun conference.

Dr. David Schindler on the Effects of Oil Sands Devlopment

Last week we aired part 1 in a two part series brought to us by Terra Informa correspondent Rebecca Rooney.  Back on December 3rd, she  recorded a talk titled Measuring the Effects of Oil Sands Development on the Athabasca River Ecosystem, delivered by Dr. David Schindler.  Dr.  David Schindler is the Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta.   His recent research has concluded that oil sands extraction and upgrading north of Fort McMurray does contribute to the contaminant load of the Athabasca River.  This research clearly demonstrates that contamination from oil sands extraction and upgrading can be detected up to at least 50 km away.  In part 1, he focused on the increase in toxic metals and hydrocarbons in the snowpack, in tributaries, and in the main Athabasca river and the reasons why the data collected by Alberta Environment and by the Regional Aquatic Monitoring Program (RAMP) has historically failed to detect this contamination.  In part 2, he focuses on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, often called PAHs, and associated deformities in fish.   We pick up where Dr. Schindler left off, explaining how he was able to achieve more sensitive measurements of PAHs than Alberta Environment or RAMP, using a new sampling technique. As a consequence of the results of Dr. Schindler’s research, former Environment Minister Jim Prentice launched an independent review of the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), the program that currently monitors pollutants in the Athabasca river.  That panel was due to report on its findings to Environment Canada by the end of November, but has yet to file its report.